18 remarkable grandmothers
... of the Lazare Côté children
When my late brother Tom first researched grandmother Marie-Louise Côté’s family history in 1996, he suggested that she and her 13 siblings, the children of Lazare Côté and Clarice Bergeron, might have descended from one of the historically famous Filles du Roi, the 768 women sent by the King of France between 1663 to 1673 to help populate the colony which would become Canada.
More than 20 years later, I found upon close inspection that the lineage of Marie-Louise and her siblings led directly to 18 of the legendary Filles. Looking deeper still, I found that some of those Filles had more than one child whose subsequent families created even more direct links to Lazare or Clarice, thus establishing 33 clear lineages.
After their arrivals began in the 1600s, the name ‘Filles du Roi’ (daughters of the king) became the term used to describe these state-sponsored, marriageable women. Ironically, it’s very unlikely when Lazare, Clarice, and their children were born 200+ years later that they or generations before them had ever heard of the Filles du Roi or considered how these ancestors even mattered, historically speaking. But of course they mattered. They were the founding mothers of an entire nation.
Why do we care?
The practical value in knowing our ancestry is perhaps only to satisfy us that we carry useful genes from quality ancestors. It matters not whether they were well known, of a certain appearance, or where they originated. All that’s important is whether the hereditary materials imparted in their descendants were desirable, and if so, in what quantities we possess them today. If we descend from Attila the Hun or Florence Nightingale, it serves as little use unless their DNA renders us more robust, more compassionate, more intelligent, or somehow better able to deal with the world now about us.
There are members of every family who blithely state that they don’t care about their genealogy. I’m not one of those. While it has been fun discovering the origins of our Côté blood, the task would never have preoccupied me without the knowledge that the Filles du Roi and the adventurous men they chose for procreation gave all of us a valid reason to embrace our country and our roots. It might also explain feelings we’ve had about our own ability to defend our families or to look adversity in the eye. It’s darned good blood. Let’s be proud of it.
— Denis Thievin, grandson of Marie Louise Côté, great-grandson of Lazare and Clarice Côté